I struggle a lot with how to approach criticizing the feminist work being undertaken by other women. Often, I fear, there is so much criticism coming from outside the movement that its counterproductive and damaging to partake. Yet, sometimes I think its necessary that women working in the feminist activist sphere be called out on certain behavior that is counterproductive to their stated goals.
Which brings me to the issue of C.Lit a new feminist literary publication started last year by a group of women in Yale College. I have two bones to pick with these women, even though I appreciate their stated goal of publishing feminist writing by Yale women, in all its editorial, journalistic, and creative mutations. Obviously, I a huge proponent of getting more women's voices out there engaged in our collective public media sphere.
1. The name C.Lit. I believe it stands for Women's College Literary Magazine, or something akin to that. The rationalization I heard was that the intention with the name was to find something clever and eye catching in the tradition of Bitch and Bust magazine. The only snag here is that there are some fundamentally important differences between the titles Bitch and Bust, and C.Lit. First of all, neither of those words EXPLICITLY refer to a female sexual organ. Second, both of those words are meant as puns, and critically: can be used as VERBS, thus giving the titles an active, engaged, combative meaning totally absent from C.Lit, a word that will forever be relegated to the realm of passive nouns.
2. STOP REMAKING THE WHEEL. Yale College, and the Women's Center, has a magazine called Aurora whose project has always been to publish Yale women's feminist writing. Granted publication of this magazine has been spotty, especially over the last few years, but to create a new magazine rather then resurrect an old one, disassociates contemporary Yale feminist work from the amazing work done by our predecessors and helps to relegate that work to the dustbins of our collective Yale memory. If instead, this group of motivatd women had thought to do some research on the history of feminist publication at Yale, and seen that as recently as last year there was such a magazine being published, and one that has been published on and off for the past twenty or so odd years, they could have aligned themselvesm with, and inserted themselves into, an extensive, important history of Yale feminist activism. And by doing so, they would have further strengthened the impact of their publication, as well as given due respect to those who came before them. But instead, they decided to start a new publication, thus becoming a part of a tired tradition of Yale students remaking the wheel so that they can say that they STARTED a new magazine, no matter how unoriginal or derivative.